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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 April, 2005, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Dutch 'not prepared for attack'
By Geraldine Coughlan
BBC News, The Hague

Volunteer 'victim' helped to safety, Amsterdam
Emergency services were slow to respond in the drill
The authorities in the Netherlands say the country is not yet ready to respond effectively to a terrorist attack.

The conclusion follows the country's largest ever anti-terrorism drill, code-named Bonfire.

Thousands of volunteers took part in the drill at the Amsterdam Arena soccer stadium - where a series of fake explosions brought a concert to a halt.

Three main flaws in disaster prevention were brought to light in the one-million-euro (608,000) exercise.

They were: a lack of communication between government services; key figures such as the Terrorism Co-ordinator cannot be reached; and chaos in the exchange of information.

There was chaos as thousands of volunteers and rescue workers tried to cope with explosions, panic, hostages and injuries.

Ambulances took 20 minutes to arrive and other emergency services took even longer. The exercise was to test response plans in case of an actual terrorist attack.

But the government says it has learned important lessons, such as not to have too many bosses in charge - and to shift the traditional Dutch consensus approach to a more specific one, pinpointing crucial decision-makers.


SEE ALSO:
Dutch step up Muslim protection
08 Nov 04 |  Europe
Dutch fear loss of tolerance
03 Nov 04 |  Europe


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